Mobile Recovery Vehicles Gain Popularity In New York

We always like to keep an eye out for innovation in our field. And with the fast-paced society that we live in, we actually found a recovery idea from New York to be rather inspiring. In two of their local counties officials have introduced Mobile Treatment Vehicles, which are staffed with nurses, counselors and peer advocates and offer sobriety support on the go.


Built to specifically tackle the state’s growing opioid crisis, these mobile units received a big introduction on January 23 and are now in full effect. The white vans are completely unmarked and contain tools, resources and personnel trained to handle all sorts of recovery scenarios. Traveling across the counties of Erie and Niagara, they are able to respond to emergency calls ranging from overdoses to cries for help.


“One of the solutions is to take professional, experienced individuals to where the problem is occurring,” New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul told a crowd at the van ribbon-cutting ceremony. “There are so many rural areas where it’s impossible for these small counties to have the resources, have facilities. It’s tough for people to get time off work.”


Indeed, these regions of New York have been hit particularly hard by the crisis. Erie reported 316 opioid-related deaths last year and Niagara wasn’t far behind. The units were built by an organization called Best Self Behavioral Health and were partially funded by a $1.7 million grant from the state’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).


And it doesn’t take a phone call to receive help. These vans also patrol local streets, keeping an eye for people who may be using or suffering from an overdose. They make a point to frequent common areas where drug use has been reported, such as parks, libraries and common public areas.


“We like to call it ‘street outreach’,” Best Self CEO Howard Hitzel explained on “We want to figure out, working in conjunction with local communities, how best to reach people and get them rapid access to care. We have pulled up to individuals on the street, people sitting near corners. You would be surprised how many people are ready to talk to you.”


The Buffalo News went so far as to offer an inside look of one of the vehicles, illustrating their state-of-the-art treatment equipment and medical devices. You can see for yourself below…

In our opinion, this is a great way to market recovery and deserves all of the publicity that it’s receiving. And seeing how Los Angeles is such a heavily trafficked city, we wouldn’t mind adding one to our streets as well.



Trump Gaining More Criticism Over Opioid Epidemic

As we all prepare to hear President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address this week, news outlets are buzzing about how the nation’s opioid epidemic will most likely be overlooked in his speech. The reason networks like CNBC are reporting this is because, in their words, the Commander-in-Chief has failed on his promises to combat the crisis.


“When Donald Trump took the oath of office a little over a year ago, he promised that ‘the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,’  staffer Chris Lu wrote on the CNBC site. “However, on one of the most pressing social issues facing these ‘forgotten’ people — the opioid epidemic — the president’s record has been one of talk instead of action.”


One big criticism of the President is that he has yet to offer any concrete solutions for stopping the growing amount of fatal overdoses. According to the article, just last week Trump was asked about if there were any solutions he had in mind to curb the epidemic. “I think I actually know the answer,” he responded. “But I’m not sure the country is ready for it yet.” Unfortunately, there was no follow up after that and no one was able to clarify his statement.


Vagueness aside, media sites have expressed anger over the fact that Trump may actually be contributing to the crisis. One of his administration’s recent proposals included slashing federal substance abuse programs, as well as Medicaid funding which supports recovery services. He has also vowed to take a harsher stance against drug offenders, which (with the crisis in full effect) may lead to more addiction-related incarcerations.


Additionally, the recent tax bill passed by the Trump administration will repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate, raising health insurance premiums by 10 percent this year. And though the President did declare a national “health emergency” regarding the crisis last fall, critics have continued to poke holes in his words.


“The emergency opioid epidemic declaration has accomplished little because there’s no funding behind it,” former Representative Patrick Kennedy told the site. “You can’t expect to stem the tide of a public health crisis … without putting your money where your mouth is.”


It all makes for more divisions within Washington D.C. and anger within many recovery circles throughout the U.S. Will Trump’s State of the Union perhaps make amends with clear-cut answers about combating the crisis? One can only hope…


Avoiding Temptations On Super Bowl Sunday

It’s hard to believe we’re getting ready enter the second month of 2018. And that first weekend of February will undoubtedly be packed with activities. The biggest one, of course, is Super Bowl LII, with the New England Patriots taking on the Philadelphia Eagles. Football game get togethers are always meant to be celebratory and fun, but it’s important to remember the potential temptations that can arise during an occasion like this.


One of the most obvious is the gambling component. There is no disputing that this is the biggest sports event of the year and with that, comes tons of opportunities for placing bets. This may sound hard to believe, but this year Americans are expected to lay a total of $4.7 billion on the big game.  A good portion will be spent illegally, through bookies and online websites. That alone can lead to dangerous consequences. But the bigger problem is, the temptation to follow the crowd and give in to the urge to spend. The excitement, the hype, the peer pressure…these are all elements that can fuel the habits of addicted gamblers.


People who have strong feelings about either team have the potential to lose a fortune if things don’t go as planned. Interestingly enough, even a victory could spell trouble for someone facing an addiction. Having success at the Super Bowl can bring feelings of invincibility and lead to further, larger bets on other sporting activities. Games like this can be slippery slope, win or lose. And for serious gamblers, game betting can include everything from the coin toss outcome to the rotation of those famous commercials.


Of course, gambling isn’t the only temptation that rears its ugly head during Super Bowl Sunday. Alcohol and drugs have become commonplace during this pastime as well. Beer, not surprisingly, is the most common, with parties sporting large kegs, six packs and Happy Hour specials. This game often runs several hours, so it can lead to long slew of drinking and alcohol fueled mishaps. Super Bowl Sunday also happens to be a prime occasion for drunk driving accidents and binge-related ER visits.


And yes, drugs play a role in this too. Among the younger crowd, Super Bowl fiestas have become wild events. Large house parties can bring about tables of cocaine, weed smoking and pill popping (just to name a few). Even drinking can be a gateway into the urge to “party harder,” particularly among people who are prone to addiction.


Now while we certainly don’t want anyone to turn their back on a fun sports game, we do want everyone to understand the dangers that come along with an occasion like this. If you plan to let loose on Super Bowl Sunday, please do it responsibly and if you feel any sort of temptations coming on, reach out for a lifeline. 866-986-2486


Latest Adult Industry Tragedies Fueled By Addiction

Recently, there have been a slew of tragedies that have impacted the adult film industry. Within the past three months, five porn performers have lost their lives due to suicides or overdoses. Even more tragic is the fact that addiction played a big role in most of these deaths. We know it’s easy to cast judgment on actors in this field (and we know that a majority of news readers often do), but these are real people earning honest wages and their deaths should not be taken lightly. Rolling Stone recently did a profile on the actors who passed, emphasizing the “crisis” now facing that industry as a whole.


This is certainly a story that’s close to home, as the center of the adult industry is right in our backyard (within the San Fernando section of Los Angeles). Olivia Lua, who was a rising star in the field, passed away this month in a recovery clinic based in West Hollywood. Her cause of death was listed as a “relapse” to prescription drugs and followed a series of cryptic Twitter posts, which may have foreshadowed her demise.


Here is one that was posted shortly before Lua’s overdose, which many believe was a description of her own addiction battles.


Just 23-years-old, Olivia was heavily mourned throughout the adult industry. Another performer, Shyla Stylez, was found dead in her sleep this past December at the age of 35. Though her final toxicology reports have not been released, she publicly battled drug addictions for years and it is suspected that she had overdosed the night prior. And just a few weeks before that, 31-year-old industry veteran Yurizan Beltran reportedly OD’d on prescription pills.


There have also been a rash of suicides in recent months, which may have spurred by drug or alcohol abuse. The Rolling Stone article chronicled each death and pointed out the mental stresses that go along with working in this industry. Whether it’s cyber-stalking, social media bullying or even a lack of job opportunities after you reach a certain age, it is clear that this is a challenging field to be working in. And we, for one, are very sympathetic to those who are dealing with these types of trauma or mental anguish.


Adult actress Nikki Hearts offered an insightful quote to the site. “Performers like us are suffering because we’re not being taken care of by the industry that we give everything to,” she explained. “There’s no person saying, ‘What you’re dealing with is really difficult mentally, it’s taking a toll on you.'”


We want to strongly emphasize that there is no judgment when it comes to recovery. Whatever field you’re working in; if you have a problem, please seek out help and let a team of trained, caring professionals help you overcome your addictions. 866-986-2486

New Bill Hopes To Address ‘Crooked’ Recovery Clinics

It is always disheartening to hear about recovery facilities across our state who refuse to play by the rules. Often concerned more with profits than actually helping people, they have begun receiving a ton of bad press and are hurting our industry as a whole. Well now, California Senator Pat Bates is attempting to push through a new law that hopes to change all that.


Titled SB 902 the bill is still very much a work in progress, but Bates has emphasized that its primary focus is to build more health and safety standards for all recovery facilities within the state. The points also emphasize California’s recent reputation as a “Rehab Riviera,” working to attract addicted transplants with false promises of glitz and glamour. In their eyes (and in ours), the work should always come before the fancy marketing campaigns.


The Laguna Niguel-based Senator spoke about the new action with Orange County’s Daily Breeze outlet, bringing up the fact that many similar bills have been proposed and failed. Previously she had proposed a law titled SB 1283, which also focused on poorly run recovery clinics, but was rejected by the Senate Health Committee.


“For more than 20 years, several bipartisan efforts to address the challenges surrounding the state’s drug rehab history have gone nowhere due to opposition from vested interests,” Bates told The Daily Breeze. “While I’m under no illusion that pursuing greater oversight will be any easier this year, doing nothing is not acceptable for constituents who have contacted me on this issue. The Southern California News Group’s thorough 2017 investigation into the industry makes it clear that reforms are needed.”


Bates went on to reference the practice of “patient brokering” and the growing exercise of using middle men to lure patients to luxurious rehab clinics under false pretenses (which we’ve mentioned many times before). Insurance scams are another growing trend among the crooked facilities, with programs that actually feed people’s habits to prolong their treatments and collect larger payouts.


The Breeze went on to report that Bates has a growing list of high-profile supporters in her corner. Apparently large groups of parents who have lost loved ones in California treatment centers have joined the cause, bringing their voice to social media and to Governor Jerry Brown’s office via a letter-writing campaign (which he has yet to respond to).


And if Senator Bates’ latest bill gets rejected again, she promised The Breeze that she plans to continue the fight.


“Creating substantive and positive change in the drug rehab industry will take time,” she added. “But as a former social worker who once worked in some of our state’s most economically deprived neighborhoods, I take inspiration from Winston Churchill’s mantra of ‘Never, never, never give up.’ And as long as I’m around, I won’t. Stay tuned.”


UCLA Frats Ban All Parties With Alcohol

If you follow our blogs, then you probably see us sharing addiction-related news from countries throughout the world. But it’s those stories from our own California backyard that always capture our attention most. And this week, the UCLA campus made major headlines by taking an aggressive step to combat alcoholism and binge drinking among their students. Effective immediately, the school has banned all booze from its fraternity events.


The decision was made and agreed upon by the UCLA Interfraternity Council (or IFC), which includes 22 frats across the university. As the IFC put it, this movement is meant to “better follow the school’s ethical standards” and set a good example for other California colleges.


“This ban is a collective effort on behalf of IFC leadership to provide an environment where UCLA’s True Bruin Values are upheld.” the official statement read. “True Bruin Values are ethical standards including respect, accountability, integrity, service and excellence. We are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of those present at IFC chapter activities.”


Nationally, UCLA had not been one of the big schools singled out for excessive frat binge drinking.  Universities like Penn State, LSU, Florida State and Texas State have been put under the microscope in recent months following the alcohol-related “hazing” deaths of several freshmen.


Their local Daily Bruin paper, however, did single out a recent incident that may have prompted the move. Though not confirmed, the outlet alleges that a drunken January frat party led to a possible sexual assault. As you may recall, we reported heavily on the similar Stanford incident that created viral outrage.


The Bruin went on to say that the UCLA IFC had made efforts to fight against binge drinking and hazing, instituting mandatory sensitivity training and three strikes initiatives against problematic frats.


Now it appears as though they are taking a much harsher stance, which happens to have the full support of the university.  UCLA, itself, released a statement following the IFC’s declaration, calling the move “a step in the right direction to strengthen the safety within the community.”


We are certainly supportive of the move and are completely sympathetic to the extreme dangers of college drinking. Not only is it harmful (and potentially deadly) for the young students who overindulge, it has also clearly led to violence and serious sexual misconduct on campuses throughout the country. Let’s hope more schools across the U.S. follow suit, by aggressively taking underage alcohol abuse out of their fraternity systems.


Drug And Alcohol Deaths Could Rise 60% In The Next Decade

1.6 million people. That’s the amount of lives that could be lost to drug and alcohol abuse between now and 2025. U.S News and World Report published these startling facts last month, projecting the amount of addiction-related deaths to rise by 60 percent in the next decade.


Suicide was another factor in the equation, raising alarms for anyone facing that particular issue. Researchers also admitted that they didn’t fully factor in the opioid crisis when calculating their figures. Though they did recognize how it has already lowered the American life expectancy.


“The United States is facing a new set of epidemics,” the report read. “More than 1 million Americans have died in the past decade from drug overdoses, alcohol and suicides. Life expectancy in the country decreased last year for the first time in two decades—and these three public health crises have been major contributing factors to this shift.”


Put into hard stats, the report identified 127,500 deaths attributed to drugs, alcohol and suicide in 2015. Taking into account addiction rates, emergency room visits and overdose totals, it projected that number to reach 192,000 by 2025. The saddest part of all is that the 2015 numbers are significantly higher than the decade prior; having tripled between 2000 and that time.


Suicides were concerning too but, as illustrated in the U.S. News chart below, they still pale in comparison to the amount of projected drug deaths.


Then there’s the economic impact these issues will have on the country by the mid-2020’s. Currently, the report revealed that $249 billion a year is spent on health care costs relating to alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide attempts. In total, that amounts to about 9.5 percent of all U.S. health expenditures.


Researcher John Auerbach spoke out about the results, discussing some of the “big picture problems” (which we happen to agree with). Yes things like the opioid epidemic are crippling our nation, but as we teach in recovery, these type of addictions need to be attacked at their core.


“These numbers are staggering, tragic – and preventable,” Auerbach told U.S News. “There is a serious crisis across the nation and solutions must go way beyond reducing the supply of opioids, other drugs and alcohol.”


And, of course, we are extremely sympathetic to the suicide issues. These types of behaviors are closely associated with addiction and should definitely be put center stage as well. The big final takeaway of the report focused on building a “National Resilience Strategy,” meant to tackle all of these issues and reduce deaths by expanding prevention and treatment initiatives.



Billboard Advertising Hopes To Bring Awareness To Overdoses

If you’ve been following the movie awards season, then you’re probably aware of the critically-acclaimed film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriThe concept behind it is pretty simple. A mother, dissatisfied with how law enforcement is handling her daughter’s murder, erects several giant billboard ads to garner attention. Interestingly enough this tactic is also happening in real life, with distraught parents paying for their own outdoor advertisements to address overdoses and the opioid epidemic.


Ohio resident Lenora Lada is a prime example of this and has received a significant amount of press coverage for her actions to bring awareness to the cause. Last year, her 26-year-old son, Trey Moats, OD’d in the backseat of a car after his friends were too scared to call paramedics. Outraged by their behavior (and the epidemic that took his life), Lada took swift action.


With her own money, Lenora paid for a roadside billboard in a major section of her town of Marietta. Emphasizing the importance of the state’s Good Samaritan law (which does not prosecute anyone calling 911 to report an overdose), it read “His Life Mattered: No Excuse For Not Calling 911 or Taking Someone to a Hospital.”


Truth be told, the circumstances of Moats’ death are especially tragic. Lada’s son had been riding around, getting high with friends when his lips began to turn blue. All of the passengers were afraid to dial 911 because they were using themselves, so they dropped Trey off at friend’s house then called his mother after the fact.


“I am asking for people to be accountable for not getting them help,” Lenora told local Ohio station, WBNS-TV. “When I got to the house he was laying on the ground. He was gurgling. Trey had already been at the house more than 20 minutes by the time I arrived.”


Though Moats was rushed to the hospital shortly thereafter, he died after admittance; suffering from multiple organ failure due to cardiac arrest. Not surprisingly, Lada was livid that he had not received treatment sooner. Though, according to the sheriff’s report, it is unclear whether Moats would have survived had he been rushed to the ER immediately.


Either way, it is definitely important to educate the public about saving lives amid the opioid crisis and particularly the Good Samaritan law. A majority of people are completely unaware that they are not at risk for calling 911 during an overdose emergency. Getting out that message alone, can make a world of difference.


To learn more about Lenora’s emotional mission, you can watch the full WBNS report below.

Scientists One Step Closer To Cocaine ‘Cure’

For decades, cocaine addiction has ravaged lives across the U.S. And though recovery treatment has helped make a dent in the amount of usage over the years, scientists have never given up on the notion of finding a “miracle cure.” Well this past week, news via The Independent offered some promising updates with an article about researchers who have discovered a potential antidote for those heavily dependent on the drug.


For the past several months, a team of psychiatry professors from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai  have been conducting tests on cocaine addicted laboratory mice and witnessed some promising results. The researchers found that they could decrease appetites for the drug by neutralizing a protein molecule which is found in the brain and blood.


The key finding had to do with the identification of the protein molecule called  G-CSF.  Through their research, the psychiatrists were able to link this directly with the cranial “nucleus acumbens” (where the reward centers are housed). When the mice were injected with more of this molecule, they saw a significant increase in the cocaine seeking behavior.


Even better news was the fact that safe treatments already exist to target these molecules in humans. Interestingly, the G-CSF combat agents had previously been linked to fighting infections after chemotherapy. Now though, the Icahn team is hoping to gain approvals to test it beyond the mice.


“The results of this study are exciting because outside of 12-step programmes and psychotherapy, no medication-assisted therapy exists to treat cocaine addiction,” lead researcher Dr Drew Kiraly told The Independent.


When tested at Icahn, the research team found that G-CSF treatments abruptly deadened the mice’s motivation to seek out cocaine. Better yet, other cranial reward centers were not impacted by the tests. Though the cocaine appetite lessened, there was a still a normal desire to seek out other pleasurable substances (such as sugar water).


Dr. Kiraly seemed very upbeat about taking these trials to the next level, specifically after ruling out the dangers that a potential “cocaine cure” could exhibit.


“Treatment with a G-CSF modulator would have the distinct advantage that it may be harnessed to reduce drug taking while ostensibly having no abuse potential on its own—a known confound in many previous trials for psychostimulant use disorders,” Dr. Kiraly concluded. “Once we clarify how it can best be targeted to reduce addiction-like behaviors, there is a high possibility that treatments targeting G-CSF could be translated into clinical trials and treatments for patients.”


Naloxone May Be Used To Fight Gambling Addiction

In our blogs, we have reported many times about the benefits of Naloxone and how it is helping to fight the nation’s opioid crisis. A simple nasal spray, naloxone is commonly used in emergency overdose situations and works instantaneously (by blocking the production of dopamine). Now, researchers in Finland are testing is usefulness with problem gamblers and finding some interesting results.


Dopamine and impulse behavior are a common link between the two addictions. And as Helsinki National Institute researcher Hannu Alho told The Guardiannaloxone’s fast acting agents are the crucial factors behind these tests.


“Gambling is a very impulsive behavior. The need to gamble starts right away,” Alho explained. “For this reason we are seeking a medication with a quick effect. The nasal spray acts in just a few minutes. Naloxone goes to the brain in a few minutes so it’s very useful for a gambler. If you crave gambling, just take the spray.”


In theory, it does sound like a plausible test case. But Alho added that many future tests are needed to determine naloxone’s true effectiveness in the gambling community. He said that previously, their research firm attempted to treat compulsive betting with pills containing similar substances and did see a level of success.


Currently, the Institute is gathering 13o volunteers to conduct their research. All would admittedly be dealing with a gambling problem (which, for the record, accounted for millions of Finnish citizens last year). Half would be given naloxone as a treatment and half would be given a placebo. Observations and tests would be run throughout, determining the effectiveness of the spray.


Though it will take several months to get definitive answers, we are glad that gambling addiction is making its way to the headlines again. Now, in particular, is a very dangerous time for anyone battling these impulses. With the NFL Playoffs underway and the Super Bowl around the corner, temptation to place bets is at all-time high.


We strongly encourage anyone struggling with compulsive gambling behavior to reach out and seek treatment immediately. Losing big during sports, tables or what have you can be a devastating experience and quickly lead to a downward spiral. If you or someone close to you is battling an addiction like this, do not hesitate to give us a call. 866-986-2486




Alcohol-Related ER Visits Are On The Rise

For most of last year, we reported on the enormous amount of emergency room visits linked to opioid overdoses. And while those stories rightfully dominated the headlines, there was another startling fact that seemed to slip under the radar. 2017 also saw an incredible surge in alcohol-related ER cases, particularly among U.S. females.


NPR published a telling piece on the topic this week, highlighting a 61 percent increase in ER alcohol visits throughout the past decade. Citing a study titled Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, the data showed that the rise in chronic American alcoholism grew at a much slower rate. That led study author Aaron White to conclude that a large portion of these cases have to do with binge drinking.


“The lowest hanging fruit in terms of hypotheses is that there must be an increase in risky drinking in some people,” White told the site. “Even though that is not showing up in increases in overall per capita consumption, it’s enough to drive the increase in alcohol-related emergency department visits.”


To put things in perspective, U.S. hospitals are purported to have 30 million ER cases each year. The booze related incidents included everything from chronic liver cirrhosis, to alcohol poisoning, to drunk driving injuries. When compiled, though, they account for serious health issues and, often times, fatalities among the patients.


The female factor puzzled researchers, according to the article. Though still not at the same level as men, alcohol-related ER admittances for women saw a steady increase. White’s figures illustrated that though some cases of binge drinking were reported among this group, pancreatitis and cirrhosis of the liver made up the lion’s share of their visits.


White went on to say that a lack of education may be responsible for the hospitalization of so many. His findings showed that a large portion of patients were simply unaware of the serious health risks associated with drinking. Perhaps because is not considered an illegal narcotic.


“Most people forget that alcohol is a drug that can lead to medical emergencies by itself or provoke other conditions,” White explained. “Even people who drink in moderation should talk about their alcohol use with physicians and other health care workers to avoid any dangerous interactions with medications.”


Indeed, the latest stats showed drinking as the culprit for nearly 90,000 U.S. deaths last year. It has also been linked to several types of cancer and a general shortage of one’s life span. White hoped that, at the very least, repeat ER alcohol visits should not be occurring. Pairing these patients up with case workers or hospital recovery specialists can certainly be a step in the right direction.


Opioid Addiction Becoming More Prominent Among Financial Traders

There is no denying that working as a financial professional can be an extremely stressful career. With volatile stock markets, badgering clients and millions of dollars on the line, it has become a prime field for addiction. As movies like Wall Street and The Wolf of Wall Street have illustrated, it’s an industry filled with cocaine binges, chronic alcoholism and unhealthy lifestyles. One new vice that appears to have crept in, however, is opioid abuse and its ability to soothe brokers’ daily demands.


The New York Post recently did an expose on this growing epidemic and the efforts that are being made to shield the facts from the public. As writer, Gregory Bresiger put it, opioid addiction has become Wall Street’s “dirty little secret.” Recovery specialist, Dr. Nancy Irwin, was quoted in the piece and described the allure of painkillers for stressed out traders.


“Opiates are a great way to numb out from the psychological pressures of the business, [and] forget if you have physical pain,” she told The Post. “Professionals may begin taking these drugs to treat a physical problem but continue using them after a wound or cut has healed because these drugs now help them get through trying times at the firm.”


The article went on to highlight the secretive nature of this problem and the reasons Wall Street execs want to keep it hidden. For one thing these professionals are handling large sums of money, so any type of misconduct (such as abusing pills on the job) could not only cost them their career, it could lead to federal charges. Image and reputation are also big components of this industry and being branded an “addict” can do tremendous damage within these tight-knit professional communities.


One former trader has come forward and spoke to The Post about the importance of addressing this problem. Financial exec Trey Laird admitted that a simple knee injury led to a downward addiction spiral that took him years to recover from. Speaking with outlets like CNBC and Bloomberg NewsLaird has now switched his emphasis towards recovery and exposing this dangers facing financial professionals.


“The industry is turning a blind eye to the problem because money is the bottom line,” he explained. “To my knowledge, there are no published studies on the Wall Street opiate epidemic.”


Dr. Irwin supported Laird’s claim and felt that de-stigmatizing this issue is one of the crucial steps needed to turn things around. “I see three primary reasons why financial professionals aren’t seeking more help,” she concluded. “The fear of losing their jobs, the fear of stigma and shame and the lack of information on how to handle treatment while abiding by their professional boards.”’



LAFD Launches New ‘Sober Unit’

We have often said that our city has some of the best firefighters in the world. Not only have they saved our own Santa Clarita community multiple times from deadly blazes, they also make a conscious effort to help support the recovery movement. This week the LAFD took things one step further, with the launch of a new Sober Unit that is designed to transport publicly intoxicated citizens to hospitals or sobriety centers.


This exciting new program is beneficial on many levels. For one thing, it will make a major difference for Angelenos battling addiction. Equally important, it will lessen the strain on 911 operators and emergency medical technicians (whose efforts are often needed in other areas). The Sober Unit also has full the support of Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was on hand for the initial kickoff.



As Mayor Garcetti said during the launch press conference, “Our new LAFD Sober Unit is the first of its kind in America — an innovative new team that helps Angelenos struggling with chronic substance abuse get into treatment and break the cycle of addiction.”


The new Los Angeles Sober Unit will be based at Fire Station 4 on Temple Street near Downtown’s Skid Row district. It is reported that people from this region are responsible for the lion’s share of intoxicated 911 calls (approximately 2,000 each year). The majority are homeless and battling alcoholism. Clearly, they stand to benefit greatly from this new program.


Fire Station 4’s Sober Unit will be comprised of a special ambulance, an EMT, a nurse practitioner and a recovery case worker. When dispatched, the team will assess each intoxicated caller and determine whether their condition merits a trip to the emergency room or a local sobering center. Either way, their needs will be addressed.


As Mayor Garcetti told the excited crowd during the kickoff, programs like this can do great things for the city. We are certainly hoping that there are more Sober Units to come!


“I’m very excited about this new Sober Unit,” Garcetti concluded.  “It will save time, it will save money, but most importantly, it will save lives.”


Warning Issued About ‘Addiction Vultures’

Stories like this always break our heart, but they are important to get out to the public. In our field, just like all others, there are unscrupulous characters focused more on cash payouts than actually making a difference. Sometimes it’s a unethical treatment facility, but other times (and more commonly now) it’s self-proclaimed “middle men” who promise to aid in recovery, but end up taking advantage of those in need. The term that has been used to describe them is Addiction Vultures and it’s gotten the attention of many major news outlets. recently printed an expose on the “vulture” industry and the methods these criminals are using to pull their schemes. Also dubbed “Junkie Hunters” or “Body Brokers,” they prey on people battling dependencies and their despondent family members. The scam works as an empty promise, with the vultures trying to come to the aid of addicts in need. They’ll vow to connect them with an affordable, effective treatment center (usually out of state), then get kickbacks from the facilities. The problem is, these facilities are almost always crooked and use the patients to collect big insurance payouts. Then vultures then get a payday and the people suffering get drained bank accounts.


The epidemic has gotten so bad (particularly because of the opioid crisis), that New York governor Andrew Cuomo has created a public awareness campaign to crack down on these fraudulent practices.


“Vulnerable New Yorkers struggling with addiction are being targeted and falsely promised life-saving treatment services and then are given inadequate and ineffective treatment at outrageous costs,” Governor Cuomo said at a recent press conference. “With this campaign, we make it clear that this reprehensible practice will not be tolerated in New York and will help ensure that people receive the appropriate assistance they need to reclaim their lives.”


Interestingly enough, Newsday is reporting that many of the vultures are recovering addicts themselves.  Their scams can include everything from overpriced intervention assistance, to bogus counseling sessions that never happen. One big indicator of this, is a supposed “treatment representative” asking for big advance cash payouts. We highly recommend doing background research on anyone who offers this. DO NOT HAND OUT MONEY without seeing their proper credentials.


Even if you’re savvy enough to spot a vulture, we highly encourage you to spread the word about these awful practices. New York’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services has provided a wealth of resources on their website, which can be shared to educate the public. Let’s all make a difference to #StopTreatmentFraud.


Opioid Epidemic Linked To Surge Of Hep C Infections

As if America’s opioid crisis wasn’t bad enough. Now, apparently, it has created yet another ripple effect across the country, with a visible rise in Hepatitis C cases. According to recent statistics, the United States’ overall rate of infections has more than doubled in the past decade. Even worse, there has has been a 300 to 400 percent jump among citizens under the age of 40.


For those unaware, Hep C is an infectious disease that primarily affects the liver. It has been commonly linked to cirrhosis and other debilitating diseases (such as cancer). It tends to be contracted through shared needles, which is where the opioid/heroin link comes in.


As mentioned above, the younger population has been credited for the Hep C uptick. Interestingly enough, research pulled from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that American women were also being infected at a higher rate. Additionally, there were “statistically significant” increases among the U.S. Hispanic and minority populations within the past 10 years.


CDC rep Jon Zibbell told Knox News that there was definitive evidence linking these numbers to the opioid crisis.


“At the time, Hepatitis C wasn’t being talked about as part of the opioid epidemic,” Zibbell told the outlet. “But this new data is really kind of a game changer.”


And as the crisis gets worse, Zibbell predicts that more cases will continue to emerge. One of the primary sources of Hep C infections are contaminated needles. Those in the grips of opioid or heroin dependencies are prime culprits of this, craving a high so bad that they’re willing to share syringes with fellow addicts.


Knox News also touched on another important point in their article. Issues like this most certainly affect America at large. For the majority of citizens who turn a blind eye and feel this epidemic doesn’t concern them, it’s time to think again. Zibbell went on to say that these Hep C issues will create “a big burden for the country’s health care system in terms of cost and manpower.” Something like that impacts everyone, via tax increases and doctor availability. There are also public health concerns, with the risk of outbreaks and contamination outside of the drug using community.


The good news is that Hepatitis C is curable, but doing so requires consistent treatment and a healthy lifestyle. With the direction the opioid crisis is heading in 2018, that sounds like a considerable challenge.



Certain Video Games May Lead To Gambling Addiction

There has always been a debate about how dangerous video games may be when it comes to addiction. On the one hand, there have been links to obsessive behavior and dependencies on the programs themselves. But more recently, a new alarming detail has been uncovered. One that lets online players bet and lays the seeds for a dangerous gambling addiction.


The Guardian recently published a telling expose on the world of video game betting and the damage it is causing to players around the world. One such program, titled Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius (FFBE), is available as a “free” download for iPhones. But it has been shown to come with a dangerous cost, as real dollars are spent within the game.


FFBE, for example, comes with a “loot box” system, which charges players money through their credit cards and allows them to wager on items within the Final Fantasy universe. It recreates the same kind of randomness and “excitement” as a roulette wheel and can offer a big in-game reward if the loot works in your favor. But just like real gambling, the loot can always work against you; creating the itch to deposit even more money for another spin.


Though the game makers adamantly deny links between their product and gambling, Guardian scribe Alex Hern feels otherwise. As he writes in his article, titles like FFBE use many of the same tricks as a common slot machine.


“The system is a sort of weaponized behavioral psychology, perfectly pitched to exploit all the cognitive weaknesses that make people so susceptible to addiction and compulsion,” Hern said. “They pull all the standard strings of problem gambling: the desire for one more go, the misplaced belief that an unlucky streak must come to an end, the hope that continuing to bet will reverse the losses already incurred.”


Many of these games come with a hook as well, designed to entice new players to spend. For example, the first few FFBE loot box experiences are free; giving newbies a taste of virtual excitement. Just enough artificial money is dispersed to get the appetite whet, then, as Hern explained, “the spigot is turned off” and players need to whip out their credit cards for more thrills.


Even worse, many of these games are geared towards children and teens (who often use parents’ charge cards without their permission). From what we can see, this is laying the groundwork for dangerous addictive behavior and we certainly hope more regulations are put in place to prevent future downward spirals.


#DryJanuary Becomes Viral Trend

Making resolutions is a big part of the new year’s experience. And this month, a recovery themed one is beginning to go viral across several social media sites. Using the hashtag #DryJanuary, this trend is challenging Americans cut down on drinking and live a sober lifestyle for 31 days.


This actually isn’t the first year that #DryJanuary began populating news feeds. In fact, 2017’s trend proved to be incredibly successful; with more than five million people committing to the program. Now, Dry January has its own social media account and is sharing informative links to help those willing to commit to sobriety.


Here is one recap post they recently published on Twitter, motivating users to break a new record in 2018.



Interestingly, it was an ordinary accountant who got the movement going, based on the belief that he could live a healthier lifestyle without beer and wine. Steve Byrne kicked off Dry January five years ago and spoke about its success with


“I had more energy, and I was proud of myself that I was able to set this goal and achieve it,” Byrne told the online site.


Others committed to the challenge admit that it isn’t necessarily designed for alcoholics. University of North Carolina’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program director Britta Starke explained that it works more as a reality check and helps people realize how much their lives can improve without consuming booze.


“It’s not necessarily for people who think they have a problem,” Starke said. “I want people to think of it as a fun experiment, just to see how you feel after 30 days. It’s a chance to feel what’s it like without alcohol in your life.”


Indeed, even for the casual drinker this unique opportunity can give them a chance to see a real difference. Whether it’s weight loss, more energy or even a nice increase in the monthly bank account, life without alcohol has many benefits.


As mentioned above, we expect 2018’s Dry January to have a much bigger impact than ever before. This year it has become a hot topic on both TV and the web, with segments devoted on shows like Good Morning America.


Perhaps GMA’s resident health expert, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, said it best with her tweet below.



If you know someone who could stand to benefit from Dry January, spread the word and have them step up to the challenge!

The Repercussions Of California’s New Pot Laws

January 1st marked a big change for citizens of the Golden State. Now, licensed businesses across California can begin legally growing and selling marijuana for recreational use (as opposed to the medical stipulations that were previously in place). While weed supporters have clearly been excited about the switch, there are some hidden dangers that need to be addressed.


For one thing, there has never been conclusive evidence that marijuana is not addictive. We have certainly seen it put it to use as a gateway drug and it is often teenagers’ first introduction into the world of substances. Common side effects also include symptoms like lethargy and paranoia; and within the “party lifestyle,” it works as a common accompaniment to alcohol.


Our purpose is simply to inform and prepare anyone excited about these new laws. Easy access to a substance like pot may have more consequences than the average Angelino may realize. The L.A. Sheriffs, for example, are already putting their teams on high alert as businesses begin selling weed in mass quantities.


There have already been warnings about the potential increase in criminal activity as newer dispensaries open. Per L.A. Sheriff Jim McDonnell, robberies may become more common and lots of additional minors could be put in harm’s way.


“Please do not continue to say that marijuana is a totally harmless herb that God put on this Earth,” he told The Los Angeles Times. “The public’s perception is that weed is innocuous, that this is something they did 40 years ago and it is no big deal. Well, today’s marijuana is not yesterday’s marijuana. The active ingredient, THC, is so much higher today than back 40 years ago.”


Indeed, the potency of the new legalized drug is something lawmakers and police officials are concerned about. Though overdosing isn’t necessarily a risk, the level of impairment caused by the stronger batches (particularly among youths) could lead to addictive behavior, serious car accidents and possible ER visits.


To combat misuse of the drug, California officers are already enforcing heavy fines for smoking in public and the same DUI regulations that apply to drinking and driving. So just because it’s legal, don’t think that abusing pot won’t have serious repercussions on your everyday life.


“A marijuana conviction or even just an arrest can really prevent people from receiving employment or public housing or access to federal student loans,” attorney Jolene Forman told the Mother Jones website.


So acknowledge and accept California’s new marijuana stance, but be wary of the issues that come along with it.